Two Swiss expatriates have revamped an abandoned plane into a Ksh3M luxury cafe and restaurant that serves as the centerpiece for a go-kart track in Shanzu, in Mombasa County.
The duo Dario Urbani and Reto Casanova bought the plane for KSh38,250 after the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) announced an auction for 73 abandoned planes. Luckily, no other bidder was interested in the plane and they automatically acquired it.
Speaking to Stuff Travel, Urbani reckoned the total costs so far, including buying the plane, moving it and restoration is Ksh3M, but said there will be another Ksh299,750 to “fully finalise the job”.
For nine months, the two documented the progress on a Facebook group, Project Dakota. Urbani added the new life of the plane from Manawatu New Zealand has given children a chance to learn about flying.
“Our DC-3 gives our guests the opportunity to enjoy the ambiance of sitting in it while having a party, or just chill under it while eating the food served from the restaurant while listening to good music or to the sound of the karts racing on the track,” stated Urbani.
Undoubtedly, most people are amazed by the incredible transformation. However, Urbani said it has not been a walk in the park.
He lamented they had to rebuild the cockpit and the right aileron ‘little wing’ from scratch. The plane wreck has been lying in the airport since 1995.
“The most time-consuming was the repairs on the corroded skin. Also difficult was to bring the plane into its final position,” Urbani told Stuff Travel.
However, Urbani explained that the repair for the engine is yet to begin since it is intense work and will come later.
Local students working through apprenticeships have played a part in the renovation. Some of these students had never been on a plane before.
According to Urbani, the DC3; ZK-BBJ will have its 80th birthday in Mombasa. He noted that this could be the last chapter for the plane that was operational in WWII.